Anyone who has ever met owners of Reebok Crossfit FirePower George and Andrea Savard would agree that they are strong individuals, in every sense of the word.
At 6’8”, George, an active-duty Toronto Firefighter, is a former offensive lineman for the Ottawa Rough Riders with an Olympic Lifting specialty from his university days. At 6’ tall herself, Andrea is a former national level boxing champion and equestrian athlete. The pair met at a boxing gym in Mississauga back in 2003. With a passion for boxing and working out, they began dating and continued to train together, which was their favourite way to pass time with one another.
Soon after marrying in 2004, the couple gave birth to twins: a daughter, Charly, and son, Samuel. When the twins were six months old, George and Andrea opened FirePower Boxing in Cambridge, where they were living. The initial motive was simply to have a place to train, stay active, and allow the twins grow up immersed in a healthy lifestyle. The gym quickly gained popularity in the community, and the business grew rapidly. The idea of branching FirePower into Milton started with George’s dream to own a commercial property, although the buying of the property wouldn’t come until later.
In April 2008, the couple opened its new location in Milton to launch their expansion into CrossFit because of the reputation as a thriving community for active adults and families with high interest in sports and fitness. Although the Savards believed wholeheartedly they were headed in the right direction, the venture did not come without growing pains. Not only were they new in town, but CrossFit was still a foreign culture; the average person didn’t know what it was, and the ones who did assumed it was for elite athletes only.
Like many new small businesses, FirePower struggled to keeps its doors open for the first year, and the Savards had to let go of their head coach in order to make ends-meet. However, during this time, the couple started to see the signs of strength in family. Friends began volunteering as coaches, early members helped out where they could, and Andrea’s parents helped by teaching the young entrepreneurs how to navigate the rough financial waters. Through this collective effort, the gym survived. This was when they started to see and feel the FirePower family grow.
Through hard work and a commitment to making working out fun again, CrossFit began to redefine fitness. Group classes were intense and connected people in a groundbreaking way. It was changing conversations at dinner tables, creating new friendships, and strengthening families. Members began spending time in large groups outside of the gym, comparing workout struggles and accomplishments, sharing meals, participating in local events, and more. The FirePower community caught the eye of Reebok USA, who had recently entered into a partnership with CrossFit headquarters. Intrigued by this thriving family-centered membership, the growth of FirePower, and the Milton community demographic trends, the Savards and Reebok joined forces to become Canada’s first Reebok gym in a co-branding partnership, still 100 percent owned and managed by George and Andrea.
Over almost a decade now, the Savard family has made RCFP their home, and a home for many Milton families who are looking to live healthier lifestyles and longing for a sense of community. Many members and coaches have been a daily part of the gym for close to ten years, and their kids have literally grown up together. They’ve seen members’ children go through life stages from pre-school to high school, or from elementary school to university and beyond. Many new FirePower babies have been born, and are now growing up through the FirePower Kids program. You can hear the pride and gratitude in Andrea’s voice when she recalls how the members have accepted her own children, now 12 years old. Charly has a nonverbal learning disability, as well as has severe Developmental Coordination Disorder, while Sam until recently was debilitatingly shy. Every member of RCFP has accepted them for who they are and has shown them unconditional love and support.
As their membership continues to grow, the RCFP family has grown together. Just like a normal family, the RCFP family is accepting and supportive of one another. Samuel describes family as “being together, feeling safe, happy, and loved.” For Charly, it’s about togetherness. She feels “grateful for having people to help me and support me. I also like to take care of the younger kids.”
The twins don’t feel their family is any different from others. By interacting with so many families over the years, they have been exposed to all the ways that families exist and what makes up a family. “We spend holidays more with our gym family than most of our relatives,” says Sam. “I have a lot of friends there.” The Savards host large Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners at the gym for their members every year. Long tables are set and members gather, like family, sharing in the cooking, preparations, and cleaning up.
Members have seen the Savards through ups and downs as their family life is very much on display. George agrees that sometimes it is challenging to separate the personal from business because their life is so interwoven with the gym. George and Andrea both admit their biggest challenge in the past few years has been finding time to workout together between running the gym, firefighting, being parents, and Charly’s therapy schedule. When asked “when was the last time you worked out together?”, they look at each other in silence, and slowly shake their heads. They then smile and reassure each other it will happen soon. Although their love for fitness is what brought them together in the first place, it’s their love for family that is keeping them strong.
Today, Reebok Crossfit FirePower and the Savards are well respected pillars in our community in relation to fitness and their focus on family. When the couple first opened their doors in 2008, there were only 250 Crossfit Affiliates worldwide. That number has grown to 13,000 today. George’s dream of owning commercial real estate finally came to fruition in October 2015. They moved RCFP to Nipissing Road to a building they are proud to own. The future looks bright for The Savards and their Crossfit family, following the same core values they opened with: a supportive family environment where one will find empowerment, innovation, and top quality instruction and training. Most importantly, the focus will continue to be on notion that “nothing is stronger than family”.